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UN atomic agency chief in Iran to demand access to nuclear sites

Visit comes as the US is pushing to ‘snapback’ UN sanctions on Islamic Republic for violating its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi  talks prior to the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi talks prior to the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog agency arrived in Iran on Monday to press for access to sites where authorities are thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material.

The visit comes as the US is pushing to “snapback” UN sanctions on Iran for allegedly violating its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from more than two years ago.

Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the other signatories to the deal, have declared the US action illegal, saying it can’t withdraw from a deal and then use the UN resolution that endorsed it to re-impose sanctions.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet with Iranian officials on Tuesday and Wednesday. He said he would address “the outstanding questions, in particular, the issue of the access.”

The IAEA repeatedly found Iran in compliance with the agreement until last year, when Tehran started openly exceeding some of the deal’s limits on nuclear enrichment in response to heavy US sanctions.

Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, center, listens to spokesman of Iran’s atomic agency Behrouz Kamalvandi upon his arrival at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport, Iran, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. The man at left is unidentified. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Iran has said the UN official’s visit is an opportunity for greater cooperation and has nothing to do with the US push for more sanctions.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency, said Sunday that the UN is seeking access to two sites, one near the capital and the other near the central city of Isfahan. He did not say whether Iran would grant access.

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